Community party next Saturday to celebrate new playground shade structure 

Presidio Water & Sewer Director Cesar Leyva tests out the slide under the new playground shade structure. Photo courtesy of Jeran Stephens.

PRESIDIO — Next Saturday, the Presidio Municipal Development District (PMDD) and the American Legion are throwing a party to celebrate the new shade structure at the playground. All are welcome for a day of food, fun, and free entry to the pool. Food will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

The playground project has been in the works for almost a year now — PMDD started discussing the possibility of shade for the playground last fall. “It’s non-negotiable,” Executive Director Jeran Stephens said at December’s regular meeting. “If we were anywhere else in the country, it might not be such a big deal. Here, it might be eight o’clock on a July evening, and that’s the first time the kids can physically touch the playground.”

The project picked up more steam in March, when PMDD selected a contractor for the project. The board dispensed with the idea of a shade sail — an out-of-town contractor had offered an outrageous bid on a flimsier structure — and instead opted to go local. Presidio contractor Ramon Rodriguez was selected as the man for the job. 

Rodriguez ultimately built a 4000-square foot structure with a canopy made of steel. Each pole holding up the roof is encased in rubber bunting, preventing future head bonks as kids run around the structure. 

Rodriguez worked diligently over the summer to finish the project — though Presidio kids will head back to school next week, the need for shade and a safe place to play won’t fade. Project Homeleaf and the Big Bend Conservation Alliance (BBCA) planted trees around the perimeter of the playground to add more green to the parks complex surrounding the Presidio pool. 

The trees and the shade structure will eventually come together in a creative new concept: the shade structure will be used as means for water catchment. When the summer monsoon rains come, that water will be funneled from the shade structure into catchment tanks and used to water the surrounding green space. 

PMDD also hopes to one day be able to provide shade for the sandbox, though that will be a separate project. Funding for the shade structure came from PMDD’s yearly budget, though the group has been able to secure funding from outside sources to fund similar projects around town. 

PMDD celebrated a “soft launch” of the structure last week, enlisting Presidio Water & Sewer Director Cesar Leyva for a test run of the slide. This weekend’s festivities will be a bit more formal: the American Legion is providing hot dogs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the City of Presidio has decided to open the pool free of charge for the day. “Everyone is welcome!” said Stephens. “Let’s start the school year on a positive note.”